The Crimson had already clawed its way back from eight points down with 2:29 to play and Harvard coach Tommy Amaker needed someone to step up and take the big shot to help turn the Crimson’s disappointing league season around.
Luckily for coach Amaker, sophomore guard Jeremy Lin had the hot hand all night and was up to the task.
Harvard called an isolation play for its sophomore threat out of the timeout and Lin responded beautifully, starting to his left and then crossing over to his right before laying in the tying bucket with nine seconds to go.
“We wanted to put it in his hands to see if he could create for himself or others,” Amaker said. “He’s our best creator, our best playmaker, and he’s our best finisher. So we just thought if we could space the floor a little bit and see if he could knife in there.
“He was able to get to the basket without anybody stopping him,” Amaker added.
Lin continued his strong play into the extra session, hitting a short jumper in the lane on Harvard’s first overtime possession just 22 seconds in. The Crimson reeled off the first seven points of the extra period and finally put the game away.
The Palo Alto native finished the night with 20 points on 9-of-15 from the field, while notching seven boards, three assists, two blocks, two steals, and committing only one turnover.
He played all but four minutes of the forty-five minute affair. His clutch effort was noticed by all, including his teammates.
“Jeremy’s great—he’s killing,” junior forward Evan Harris exclaimed. “It’s amazing, especially for a sophomore to be stepping up like that, it’s a great sign for our future.”
Lin’s breakout weekend continued on Saturday night, when Penn visited Cambridge. Friday night’s heroics seemed to inspire Lin’s teammates, who used a solid team effort to hand the Quakers an 89–79 defeat, marking the first time since the 1986–87 season that the Crimson has defeated the two perennial basketball powers in the same weekend.
In Saturday’s contest, Lin finished with 21 points, six rebounds, four assists, three steals, and a block. It was the first time in the sophomore standout’s young career that he had tallied at least 20 points on back–to–back nights.
He was 2-of-2 from behind the arc and 8-of-13 overall from the field. More importantly, he answered all of Penn’s attempts to get back into the game with mid-range jumper after mid-range jumper, but you would never hear this from Lin himself.
“We just have so many weapons that the other team can’t really focus on one person,” Lin said. “That allowed me to get a lot more open—getting into lanes and getting open shots. It’s pretty much the other team focusing a lot on other players that allowed me to get some easy buckets.”
Lin’s efforts didn’t escape the attention of the rest of the Ancient Eight—he was named Ivy League Player of the Week yesterday.
After this weekend, in which Lin shot an astounding 60.7 percent from the field, the Crimson will continue to look to its sophomore guard to help close out its Ivy schedule on a high note.
“Jeremy’s been a tough guy for people to guard,” Amaker said. “When he’s attacking like he was this whole weekend, he’s a tough guy to defend.”